US Secretary of State John Kerry praised Saudi Arabia as a “very, very important” ally yesterday as he visited the Gulf kingdom on a mission to soothe strains in the relationship over US policy on Iran, Syria and the Palestinian issue.
Kerry, who is touring the region after a flurry of signals from the kingdom that it dislikes Washington’s recent approach, met Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud yesterday morning and later began talks with King Abdullah.
“We have very important things to talk about to make sure the Saudi-US relationship is on track, rolling forward and doing things that we need to accomplish,” Kerry said in remarks to staff from the US embassy. “The Saudis are very, very important to all of us. The Saudis are really the senior player in the Arab world, together with Egypt.”
Riyadh, Washington’s main Arab ally, is angry over what is sees as a weak foreign policy on the part of US President Barack Obama’s administration, which has allowed Israel to continue building settlements in the Palestinian territories and conflict to persist in Syria.
Saudi concerns are also partly founded on a fear that Obama’s moves to reduce tensions with Iran will give Riyadh’s main regional adversary an opportunity to extend its influence in Arab countries.
Speaking before his meeting with the foreign minister, Kerry reiterated that the US was determined that Iran would not get a nuclear weapon. Tehran says it is enriching uranium only for civilian energy purposes.
In the most senior levels of Saudi government, princes are also exasperated by US reluctance to back Egypt’s military in July after it overthrew elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Saudi royals were also disappointed by Kerry’s efforts in bringing about an agreement to disarm Syria’s chemical arsenal in August after a gas attack in Damascus, Alani said.
In addition to Riyadh, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Kerry will make stops in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco, before heading to Poland for talks on trade ties, as well as plans to base a US missile defence system there in 2018.
He was to fly in to Poland from Saudi Arabia late yesterday against a backdrop of European anger over revelations of US spying. Kerry acknowledged last week for the first time that in some cases, US spying had gone too far.
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘BASELESS ACCUSATIONS’: Ker Chien-ming said it was not possible to drop Chen Chu’s nomination, while KMT lawmakers accused their DPP rivals of ‘homicidal behavior’ The Legislative Yuan is to vote on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nominations for the Control Yuan on July 17 after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators regained access to the legislative chamber yesterday after it was occupied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for about 19 hours. The Legislative Yuan had been scheduled to meet yesterday morning to discuss its planned extraordinary session, but more than 20 KMT lawmakers on Sunday afternoon broke into the main chamber and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to protest Tsai’s nomination of former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) to be Control Yuan president. The KMT caucus